Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS
The Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019, USA
Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Crochet Coral Reef, an ongoing project by sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Los Angeles–based organization, the Institute For Figuring. Mixing crocheted yarn with plastic trash, the work fuses mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices, and craft to produce large-scale coralline landscapes, both beautiful and blighted. At once figurative, collaborative, worldly, and dispersed, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a tender response to the dual calamities facing marine life: climate change and plastic trash.
With 2016 the hottest year on record, living reefs everywhere are under stress. Arenas of color now intrude—the bleaching events signaling that corals are sick and dying. As a response to the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef in their native Australia, the Wertheims began to crochet a simulation of healthy and ailing reefs in 2005. Using the algorithmic codes of crochet, the sisters produce crenellated forms that are representations of hyperbolic geometry, which also manifest in the undulating structures of corals, kelps, and other reef organisms. The Wertheims and their collaborators, a core group of worldwide "Crochet Reefers," fabricate an ever-evolving artificial ecology.
This exhibition consists of three main "habitats"— A giant Coral Forestand, a collection of miniature Pod Worlds, represents the diversity of living corals through the varying textures, colors, and forms of crocheted yarn and beads. A Bleached Reef and a brand new Toxic Reef serve as invocations of dying corals, while The Midden (four years' worth of the Wertheims' own domestic plastic trash) constitutes a deeply personal response to the issue of plastic waste in the oceans, including human-made phenomena such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
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